In many religions, there is an idea of a day set aside for rest from work and labor, and usually it entails some kind of worship or ritual as well. It’s oftentimes called the “Sabbath.” Every religion does things a little bit different, as do the people within that religion. For some, it may mean just a trip to a church, mosque, or synagogue, others may have a family meal together, and still others may refrain from riding in a car or turning on/off electric lights (among many other options!).
A few weeks ago, I had a good conversation with a friend about honoring the Sabbath. We were walking around a lake, far away from her home, and she was reminded how good it would be to get away from home and work in a place such as this one, as to more easily refrain from the temptations of cleaning her room, doing dishes, or undertaking other chores and activities that “needed to get done.” I told her I thought it was a good place to start, and maybe a good way to begin the practice of ritually honoring the sabbath, but I hoped that soon she might become more confident in herself and able to resist those temptations to take up “work” that seemed to be beckoning in other places. While getting away can be helpful, it can also be limiting in the scope of allowing for what the sabbath might entail. Or maybe that time away is exactly what you need on your sabbath.
For me, sabbath is about doing things that bring me joy and pleasure and release, things that bring me rest from the labors of things that I don’t necessarily want to do but must do anyway. I try to attend a worship service each week, as it’s a ritual that helps me step aside and recognize the holy, but I also like to fill my day with other spirit-filling activities.
I’ll play my banjo, write letters, or go for a bike ride, but I don’t restrict myself to that which others easily see as leisure. It’s really about how what I’m doing affects me that is important, isn’t it? Doing laundry, when I’m able to hang the clothes on the line outside to dry, is soul-restoring to me, so why not do it on the “sabbath?” Today, I plan to pick some blueberries, which to some might be seen as work. But if I find enjoyment in it, I see no reason to refrain from it on my sabbath. And if I pick for a while and it gets cumbersome, I’ll stop.
It’s all about a sabbath mentality. What brings you joy? What revives your soul? What restores you after a week that maybe brought you down? Take a day to do that, even if others might see it as “work.” For truly, that’s what the sabbath is all about.